Windows 11, iOS 15 available to all as Microsoft and Apple seed beta versions

If you enjoy trying out pre-release versions of new software then the tech giants are providing plenty of opportunity.
If you enjoy trying out beta software then there are now opportunities galore Photo credit: Supplied

Over the last few weeks both Microsoft and Apple have announced new versions of the software that powers our computers, smartphones, watches and more.

For early adopters and beta testers the majority of that software is now available to download - that's if you're ready to take the risk of installing pre-release versions.

Windows 11, Microsoft's latest version of its operating system, was revealed last week and is due for release later this year, with expectations it will be available to all in late October.

One of the biggest changes Windows 11 brings is the integration of Android-based apps and games into the newly-renamed Microsoft Store.

A partnership with Amazon means shoppers can search for apps in Windows and then buy them via Amazon's Appstore.

Other features include integration of its Teams chat software, a centred Start menu and taskbar and widgets.

Windows Insiders whose computer meets the required specifications to run Windows 11 can now download build 22000.51, the latest beta version.

Anyone can sign up to be a Windows Insider by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program on their Windows 10 device.

Meanwhile beta versions of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and watchOS 8 have been released to the public by Apple after previously only being available to registered developers.

The new iPhone and iPad software doubles down on Apple's privacy focus, launched in April. That gave users more control over their online privacy, forcing apps to ask for permission to track users across the web.

New Mail Privacy Protection will stop senders using invisible pixels contained within emails to collect information like IP addresses and whether the receiver opened the message or not.

And Siri, Apple's smart assistant, will now use on-device speech recognition instead of sending the data to the cloud, allowing for faster response times.

Also rolling out is iCloud+, an updated version of its current software available to anyone who pays for iCloud storage.

That introduces Private Relay, VPN-like functionality that will route your traffic through two separate relays to mask your data with, the company claims, no compromise on performance.

Hide My Email, also part of iCloud+, will let users create single-use email addresses to forward email to their main account, an extension of the similar Sign In With Apple feature currently available.

The watchOS8 beta brings new options to turn Portrait mode photographs into watch faces, breath tracking in Sleep and a reimagined version of the Breathe app entitled Mindfulness.

Anyone wanting to try out the new software has to ensure their devices are registered in Apple's Beta Software Program.

A beta of MacOS Monterey, the latest version of its desktop and laptop software, will be released at a later date.

Anyone installing beta software is advised to make sure their device has been backed up - including important data, photographs, messages etc - because pre-release software can cause issues with devices.